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Return of Sports Doesn’t Appear to Have Improved Chance of Fox Sports RSNs Returning to Hulu & YouTube TV

Jason Gurwin

If there was a time that Sinclair would have been able to get a deal for Fox Sports RSNs on Hulu, it would have been in their negotiation to bring back local CBS affiliates. However, in February ahead of the Super Bowl, Sinclair reached a deal with Hulu, but Fox Sports RSNs weren’t included.

During their Q4 2020 Earnings Call, Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said, “we are satisfied with our deal with Hulu, RSN carriage is only just one form of consideration the mix.”

In fact, when Sinclair acquired Fox Sports RSNs, it was thought that their ability to bundle local affiliates and RSNs in a single rights agreement would help them get continued carriage. However, in the case of Live TV Streaming Services, Ripley said that the fact that affiliate owners get carriage (through an opt-in) of a master deal negotiated by a network’s parent makes that a challenge.

“There is a difference in the way the mechanics works…and in their business model, as well as what they can afford and what they value. That tends to lead to a different outcome,” said Ripley.

Sinclair’s deal with Dish for carriage of local affiliates expires this summer and he seems more optimistic with the chance RSNs could return. Ripley said, “we’ve had tremendous success with all the traditional MVPDs coming with incentives to take broad packages.” Dish and their skinny bundle Sling TV dropped Fox Sports RSNs in July 2019.

In January 2020, fuboTV dropped the RSNs from their service. Then, in late-2020 both YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV dropped the channels.

It was thought that YouTube TV and Hulu may have been holding out while NHL and NBA season were dark in the fall.

When asked specifically if the return of sports have accelerated conversations with Hulu and YouTube TV, Ripley talked about the RSNs importance to the leagues – but didn’t mention any renewed engagement with streaming players. “Undoubtedly the return of sports is very important to us. In terms of our value proposition to distributors, these are some of the highest rated programs on television. They have tremendous value. And, that definitely plays a role in discussions with distributors.”

The channels are currently only available to stream using AT&T TV “Choice” plan, which is available for $84.99 without a contract.

Fox Sports RSNs were acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group from Disney, after netting them as part of their deal for 21st Century Fox. FOX Regional Sports Networks broadcasts local telecasts of 14 MLB teams, 17 NBA teams and 13 NHL teams.

  • Fox Sports Arizona
  • Fox Sports Carolinas
  • Fox Sports Detroit
  • Fox Sports Florida
  • Fox Sports Indiana
  • Fox Sports Kansas City
  • Fox Sports Midwest
  • Fox Sports New Orleans
  • Fox Sports North
  • Fox Sports Ohio
  • Fox Sports Oklahoma
  • Fox Sports Prime Ticket
  • Fox Sports San Diego
  • Fox Sports South
  • Fox Sports Southeast
  • Fox Sports Southwest
  • Fox Sports Sun
  • Fox Sports Tennessee
  • Fox Sports West
  • Fox Sports Wisconsin
  • SportsTime Ohio
  • Marquee Sports Network
  • YES Network